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Itasca State Park
Descriptions of Selected Resources

Minnesota state parks contain a variety of historic properties. These images are representative of the Rustic Style historic resources built in Minnesota state parks.

Douglas Lodge Area

The Douglas Lodge area of the park is located along the south shore of Lake Itasca. The area includes the oldest development within the park and contains 17 contributing buildings, three contributing structures, and two contributing objects.

Click to see larger image of Douglas Lodge Douglas Lodge
Builder: T. & S. Myers
Architect: Clarence H. Johnston, Sr.
Date: 1905

Built in 1905, Douglas Lodge is the oldest surviving building in the state park system and the first to be constructed in the Rustic Style. The Lodge is a 40-foot x 80-foot rectangular two-story structure built with peeled logs with saddle-notched corners resting on a split stone foundation. A gable roof is supported by log rafters and purlins. A covered entrance porch with log posts and brackets extends along approximately half of the north facing principal facade while an enclosed porch continues around both the north and west facades. Window openings are 9-over-9-light double-hung sash on the first floor with corresponding 6-over-6 sash on the upper story. A fieldstone fireplace is located on the east end wall. The lodge contains a lounge on the first floor with an archway log with the date 1905, a dining room, and five guest rooms on the second floor.

Douglas Lodge was the first building constructed to serve visitors to Itasca State Park and was built with funds appropriated by the State Legislature in 1903. Attorney General Wallace B. Douglas, a pivotal figure in the battle to save the timber in Itasca Park at turn of the century, selected the site overlooking the east arm of Lake Itasca. The lodge that now bears his name was originally called Itasca Park Lodge or State House. The contractors, Thomas C. and Samuel I. Myers, built the lodge using park timber. Their original contract read, "said cottage to be built agreeably to the draught plans and specifications by Clarence H. Johnston, architect...." Douglas Lodge was completed in 1905 at a cost of over $11,500, more than twice the amount originally appropriated. The lodge has provided tourist facilities since 1911.

A kitchen wing was added to the south facade as early as 1914. Over a span of 70 years the kitchen facilities became inadequate and much of the log structure was either rotted or covered by sheathing materials. In the winter of 1984-85 the kitchen was replaced with a replica of the original. Trees were obtained from a remote area of the park as part of a long-term forest restoration project. The original kitchen was removed and new footings and rock-faced foundations were built. To accomplish the project in a single season, the exterior log walls of the new kitchen were constructed nearby at the same time and later moved piece by piece onto the actual foundation. The 56-foot by 42-foot kitchen is joined to the lodge by a 12-foot by 27-foot connecting section. A 34-foot by 24-foot deck was also built along the west facade. The addition preserves the architectural integrity of Douglas Lodge through the use of peeled pine logs, a stone-faced foundation, 9-over-9 light double-hung sash, and a stone veneer masonry chimney to house the kitchen exhaust system.

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Click to see larger image of Clubhouse Clubhouse
Builder: Unknown
Architect: Unknown
Date: c1911

Located on a high bluff overlooking Lake Itasca, the Clubhouse is perhaps the most extraordinary Rustic Style building in the state park system. Built in approximately 1911, the Clubhouse is a two-story symmetrical structure constructed with peeled logs with saddle-notched corners. However, the building's most unusual feature is a mansard roof with flared eaves and bell-shaped dormer windows. The finely crafted interior contains 10 sleeping rooms organized around a two-story Rustic Style lobby featuring a balcony with log posts and railings. Each facade is divided into three bays with three 6-over-6 double-hung sash spaced along the first story and three corresponding dormer windows above. The center bay of the north-facing lake facade features an entrance consisting of double doors flanked by casement sash.

The Clubhouse has remained relatively unchanged since construction, although an entrance porch has been removed and several deteriorated lower logs were replaced in 1984. This was accomplished by carefully raising the wall, removing the rotted log and replacing it with a duplicate of the original.

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Click to see larger image of Old Timer's Cabin Old Timer's Cabin
Builder: CCC
Architect: Edward W. Barber
Date: 1934

Located north of the Clubhouse along the shore of Lake Itasca, the Old Timer's Cabin was the first CCC-constructed building in the park. This impressive building features walls only four logs high. The cabin is built with peeled logs with saddle-notched corners resting on a rock-faced foundation. The rectangular structure is covered by a gable roof. Window openings are four-light sliding casement sash. A feature on the Old Timer's Cabin in the National Park Service publication Park Structures and Facilities included these comments:

"Only the sworn statement of one who is well informed, to the effect that this cabin was built from wind-falls and not cut timber, permits conservationists to show this cabin here. Almost humorous in its scale, it is far from that as a reminder of magnificent forests all but extinct. As a relic of the days when trees were trees, this cabin can inspire us to firm resolution to permit them to be so again in the long term future. …The random informality of the axe-hewn log ends contributes greatly to the naive charm of this little building."

The Old Timer's Cabin was originally known by the CCC as the Honeymooner's Cabin.

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Click to see larger image of Forest Inn Forest Inn
Builder: CCC
Architect: Edward W. Barber
Date: 1939-41

The Forest Inn is one of the largest buildings constructed by the CCC in the state park system, with overall dimensions of 144-foot by 50-foot. The T-shaped combination building features both split stone and log construction and is covered by an intersecting gable roof supported by log rafters and purlins.

The principal facade includes a central entrance as well as north and south wings. The entrance projects from the main facade and is flanked by massive 7-foot by 7-foot-6-inch stone pylons. The north wing consists of a split stone wall which rises to the sill level with 13-inch to 14-inch horizontal logs with saddle-notched corners above. The south wing is divided into three bays by battered stone piers. Log brackets rest on each pier and support broad overhanging eaves. Window openings are 8-light casement sash organized in groups of two or three.

The interior originally contained a refectory in the central portion of the building, a souvenir mart in the north wing, and rest rooms and a meeting room with a split stone fireplace in the south wing. Although the refectory has been removed, the remaining areas of the Inn still retain their original function. The most impressive feature of the interior is a massive log truss system of almost Herculean proportions. A series of log-constructed lighting fixtures was also designed for the interior.

The Forest Inn was built by the 200 members of the CCC camp SP-19. The stone crew consisted of about 30 men who had gained experience during the construction of 11 stone buildings at Sibley State Park. Eight of the men did the actual stone laying while the rest were involved in locating, hauling and splitting the stone. Stone for the walkways were scrap pieces from the quarries and stone works of the St. Cloud area. The logs used in the building came from the park. Pine was used for the walls and balsam fir was selected for some of the rafter logs. Ole Evensen, a woodsman who had been involved with the construction of the log buildings at Scenic State Park, supervised the log work. The iron work for the lighting fixtures and doors was made by John Wiber, the blacksmith foreman at the CCC camp.

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Click to see larger image of Mississippi Headwaters Dam Mississippi Headwaters Dam
Builder: CCC
Architect: National Park Service
Date: 1941

A 44-foot-long outlet dam constructed at the north end of Lake Itasca clearly defines the headwaters of the Mississippi River. Below the level of the water, the structural portion of the dam consists of 4-foot pieces of triple-lap sheet piling capped with a 7-foot wide layer of concrete 6 to 18 inches thick. Rocks and boulders pressed into the concrete give the headwaters dam its present-day appearance. According to the original plans, "All joints between stones [to be] filled with mortar - 1 part cement and 2 1/2 parts coarse washed sand. Before [the] cement hardens, stone and pebbles [to be] pressed into the surface, making it appear as natural as possible. All exposed rock will be weathered and darkened."

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